Whirlwind summer with the Cyclones: Frenzel discusses first season in minor leagues
The journey from the minor leagues to the big leagues is long and treacherous, but Cole Frenzel wouldn't want it any other way.
After being the New York Mets' seventh-round draft choice in 2011 and finishing his first season with the short-season Class A Brooklyn Cyclones, Frenzel has had some time off to reflect on his first professional baseball season.
"You really find out how to make the change from college and how much of a grind it becomes," said Frenzel, who was drafted out of the University of Arizona. "This is what you do all day do long."
How daunting is that grind?
"I remember one time we packed our suitcases, brought them to the field and played a game," Frenzel said. "We ate dinner, took a 12-hour bus ride and that was our night sleep. Got there, ate lunch, played a game, went to bed, woke up and played a game. Drove back 12 hours and then when we got back, we had a doubleheader that day. That's the grind."
Despite the grind of the season the Dickinson High graduate, is staying humble knowing he is fortunate enough to play a game for a living.
"It's really just a game," Frenzel said. "It's a child's game and we get to play it every day. To be able to play baseball every day as your job is something you dream about. You just have to keep things in perspective and hopefully it pays off for you."
Though baseball is a game, Frenzel realizes there is also a maturity aspect.
"It's more of like 'you are growing up now,'" Frenzel said. "It's your career and you have to do it on your own. You've got to learn all that stuff."
Once Frenzel was part of the Mets organization, it didn't take him long to meet current major leaguer All-Stars David Wright, Jose Reyes and Johan Santana. Frenzel met Wright and Santana in Port St. Lucie, Fla., and Reyes was in Brooklyn. All three big leaguers were on rehabilitation stints.
"The minute you learn they aren't that different from you, they are the same way, they've just mastered their skills," Frenzel said. "He (Wright) is a really nice guy. Same with Jose Reyes and Johan Santana, who gave me rides home from the park all the time."
In his first minor league season, Frenzel played first base while posting a .238 batting average with 20 RBI, four doubles and one home run. Though the stats might not reflect a great season, Frenzel said that's one facet of the game that players can't get wrapped up in.
"A lot people say, 'Don't even look at your stats,'" Frenzel said. "For me personally, I learned a lot and I developed as a player. That first year coming in is just getting your feet wet and learning the system."
Jack Leathersich, who was a fifth-round choice by the Mets, knows Frenzel didn't have the season he was hoping for, but said there's a reason why he went in seventh round.
"He's a great kid, a hard worker and I know he didn't have the season he wished he would of," Leathersich said. "He got drafted that high for a reason, so obviously the results will come."
The trick to harnessing those results is finding a specific routine.
"You work on your own stuff," Frenzel said. "They don't tell you what you need to work on as much. When you get into the pros, it's your job to say what you need to work on."
The key to finding that routine was shared by teammate and New York-Penn League batting average leader Danny Muno.
Muno, who supplied a .355 batting average this past season, found the right routine and hung onto it.
"If your routine is working for you, you definitely want to stick with it," said Muno an eighth-round choice by the Mets. "I found a routine that was working for me and I just stuck with it."
But what happens if that routine isn't working?
Frenzel said a piece of information given to him by Cyclones manager Rich Donnelly, who served for 14 seasons under current Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland, was to have instant amnesia.
"That was new for us, to forget about things as soon as they happen," Frenzel said. "The game changes so much. The mental approach was the biggest change for me."
Mastering the mental part of the game is one step Frenzel is working on and knows he must continue to do so for the rest of his career.
"Right now it's a lot more mental approaches," Frenzel said. "If I have a couple minutes where I'm sitting down hanging out, I'll visualize like I'm hitting. I think that helps out a lot. They stress that a lot more than you would think, just visualizing pitches."
Along with imagining the hitting motion, Frenzel simplified his swing.
"You learn to simplify things," he said. "You want to keep everything as short and simple. Don't think it over too much. Thinking kind of retards the skill in baseball. It's all reaction and instincts."
While natural skills and instincts are important, so is communication among teammates.
"Your teammates are a big part of the game," Frenzel said. "You become like a big family. The best teams have one heartbeat. They all are on the same page."
Communication is important to Muno so he has an inkling as to what the opposing pitcher is throwing.
"It helps a lot," he said. "Being able to communicate to your teammates on what the pitcher's throwing, what he's got and what kind of movement he's got is very helpful."
One part that makes Frenzel's job easier, he said, is having the support of everyone in Dickinson.
"The support this town has given me is unbelievable," Frenzel said. "It makes a difference too, knowing that your whole town is rooting for you. It makes you want to work that much harder. At the same time, you have to stay humble and work hard."
One coach that Frenzel said continues to stay humble is Frank Viola, who helped the Minnesota Twins to the 1987 World Series. Viola won the World Series Most Value Player Award that season and won the Cy Young Award the following season.
"He's a Cy Young winner, World Series MVP and he's like a big kid," Frenzel said. "He's still a kid. He's one of the funniest people I've ever talked to."
The final question for Frenzel is, what's next?
He heads down to Arizona after Christmas and begins offseason workouts. After getting back into baseball shape, he will then travel to Port St. Lucie, Fla. at the beginning of February and report for spring training. Once spring training is over, Frenzel will find out where the Mets want him.
There are three destinations Frenzel is likely to go: stay with the Advanced-A St. Lucie Mets, go to the Single-A Savannah (Ga.) Sand Gnats or the Double-A Binghamton (N.Y.) Mets.
"Wherever they send me, that is what their plans are for me," Frenzel said. "I'm just working hard, so I can to maximize my abilities."